I have often struggled with the issue of religious language. And recently the struggle has only increased. I am definitely of the mentality that when we speak of God we speak of Him analogously. What I mean by this is that we speak of Him via metaphor. Considering that God is utterly transcendent, there is no way that we can have a one-to-one correspondence between our frail, human, imminent words and God’s un-image-ability. That fact – that God is un-image-able – is rooted deeply in the Hebrew Scriptures in the Decalogue. The second commandment is one that is often interpreted as referring to images and statues exclusively. But I think this is a gross misunderstanding of the Real underlying principle: God is so Unpresentable/Transcendent/Real that it is utter foolishness to try to capture His glory in any human derivation and an absolute offense to think otherwise.

If the above definition is true, this would apply to language about God, which is a human derivation, as well. This means that any attempt at discussing the divine is one that must be understood as non-comprehensive and ever-searching. If left to our own human faculties no words could ever describe God as He really is in any accurate way. But seeing that such was the case, God invaded our horizontal experiences with His Word, opening up an avenue for humans to see the Unpresentable and hence describe Him to the best of human ability.

God simply is. We experience Him. And then we try to describe that which we experience (the Unpresentable) by using common human notions. However, if trying to capture the glory of God (via linguistic representation) is not only non-comprehensive but also a violation of God’s Law should we even make such efforts? This is the snafu in which I am currently caught. After all, the Bible itself is a book of linguistic representations of God. Isn’t it? Or is the Bible excluded from such a critique because it is not a presentation of the divine Itself, but rather it is the story of men who have encountered God and have recorded their experiences of Him, leaving the readers to draw conclusions about the overall relationality of God to His creation?

Perhaps the only way that we can answer such questions is by asking ourselves what the nature of language is. Is language the vocalization (symbolizing) of concrete, mental concepts? Or is it something different? Unfortunately as of now I have no idea how to answer this question. The best I can do is say that I do believe that we can know things about God. But those things are mainly how He relates to us. Other than that, I think the best that humans can do is try to describe the divine in analogous terms. The only question left is, is that something that we ought to do?

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